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John Kiesewetter on the world of local and national TV

Senior Entertainment Reporter John Kiesewetter has been covering TV and media issues for 20 years. After joining the Cincinnati Enquirer in 1975 as a summer intern, he worked as a county government and suburban reporter; assistant city editor and suburban editor; and features editor supervising the Life section. He has a B.S. in journalism from Ohio University.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Rewriting TV History?

So here's something to think about: Would Channel 5's news ratings be bigger today if Rob Braun was anchor? Would Channel 5 have been in last place since Jerry Springer left 14 years ago, if Braun was there to take over as main anchor? It could have happened.

I've been working on a story about second-generation broadcasters for our Sunday A&E section, before Thom Brennaman does Opening Day with his dad. Among those I interviewed was Rob Braun, son of Bob Braun, the late Channel 5 TV host. Rob told me that he got his first taste of the TV business with his dad's help in 1981, doing a six-month unpaid internship at Channel 5 news. During that time, he was twice offered jobs at Channel 5 -- but corporate nixed it citing a nepotism policy, because his dad was still hosting the "Bob Braun Show" (until 1984). Even after Rob proved himself at Channel 5's sister station in Knoxville, Channel still wouldn't hire him. So he was hired by Channel 12 in November 1984.

Do you suppose the decision-makers have regrets today? Channel 12's 11 p.m. news, with Rob, has been No. 1 for years? How many main anchors has Channel 5 been through since Springer left?

Let's go one step further: Would Channel 5 still be in third place today -- or is it fourth behind "The Simpsons?" -- if the station had kept Clyde Gray, Steve Horstmeyer, Jeff Hirsh, Bill Hemmer, Thom Brennaman, and how many others that you can name? Or where would Channel 9 be today, if Clyde Gray stayed at Channel 5? Or what would Channel 12's news look like without Rob Braun?

What do you think?

More Radio Changes

The new Big D and Bubba morning team makes its debut on Opening Day on country WOLF 97.3 (WYGY-FM), but don't expect to see them in the Opening Day parade with other radio personalities. Big D and Bubba are syndicated from Nashville. (They do afternoons on WSIX-FM in Nashville).

They replace Ken & Kitty, who haven't been on the air this week. Their website says that Bonneville didn't renew their contract. Jesse Tack returns to afternoons on Monday, when the new guys start.

Marty Thompson, PD for Bonneville's WUBE-FM (B105.1) and WOLF, says Big D and Bubba promise lots of local content -- six segments an hour.

So listen next week and tell me what you think of Big D and Bubba... Or tell me if you miss Ken & Kitty?
And what does anyone think of Tim & Jeff, the new morning guys on KISS107.1? They just came here from an Arkansas station...

"America's Next Top Model" Search Here Tuesday

Have you ever been to a nude beach? What accomplishment are you most proud of? What would you do if you became famous from a TV show? Who's your favorite supermodel? The smart answer to the last question would be Tyra Banks.... if you're a woman age 18-27, and planning to attend an open casting call for "America's Next Top Model" Tuesday at the Cincinnati Museum Center.

A casting director from Bank's popular CW show will be at the Museum Center 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday. The show is looking for women ages 18-27, and at least 5'-7". However, producers say they're looking for a variety of models, including plus size, according to the application at

The 15-page application has 72 questions, including those about being to a nude beach, becoming famous, favorite accomplishments, favorite supermodel, and what three items you'd take into the "Top Model" house.

If producers select a woman from this process, she wouldn't be the first area contestant on the show. Shannon Stewart, a 2003 Franklin High School graduate from Warren County's Franklin Township, was one of the top three finalists the first season (2004).

"America’s Next Top Model" airs 8 p.m. Wednesday on the WKRC-TV’s digital CinCW station (Insight and DirecTV Channel 25, Time Warner Channel 20).


"Music Professor" Jim LaBarbara Fired

Only two more days to hear Jim "The Music Professor" LaBarbara on WGRR-FM (103.5). After 38 years on the air here -- the last 14 at don't-call-us-oldies WGRR-FM -- LaBarbara was told Wednesday his contract would not be renewed. He will leave after his 2-7 p.m. show Friday.

LaBarbara, 65, will be replaced by program director Keith Mitchell. He says he was told that Cumulus corporate execs in Atlanta ordered the move, to put Mitchell back on the air. Mitchell was PD and morning personality at MOJO 94.9, until Cumulus sold the station in September.

LaBarbara told me this morning: "I'm just shellshocked now, trying to figure out what I'm going to do next. They said it had nothing to do with me, or my ratings, or my age. They said corporate wanted to make the change."

LaBarbara, who is listed in the Rock Jock Hall of Fame and a member of the Ohio Radio/Television Broadcasters Hall of Fame, says he won't do anything special on his show today or Friday -- because he hopes to land another radio job.

"I'm not going to say goodbye. I'm not ready yet to retire. I definitely want to stay on the air. I'm hoping and praying I can catch on somewhere. I love being on the air."

Mitchell, who subbed for LaBarbara over Christmas, says no other DJ changes are planned for the station. (So Rockin' Ron, Chris & Janeen are safe for now.)

So who might pick up LaBarbara? WDJO? Or could he do talk somewhere, as he did for five years on old WCKY?

Any you have fond memories of The Music Professor on WLW-AM, or his hundreds of interviews with rock musicians?

Hammerin' Josh Hamilton on TLC

Here's a treat for Reds fans pulling for Josh Hamilton, the Rule 5 outfielder coming back from three years of drug suspensions: Hamilton will be seen in "A Home Run For Trademark," a 9 p.m. Saturday special on TLC. He's part of a construction crew restoring Shoeless Joe Jackson's home in Greenville, S.C., and converting it into a museum.

Hamilton, from Raleigh, N.C., did construction work while out of baseball. On the show, he helps real estate broker Richard C. Davis from A&E's "Flip That House" fame. It was taped last year, before Major League Baseball allowed Hamilton to resume his baseball career. Davis had met Hamilton in 1999, shortly after the baseball player graduated from high school.

TLC has decided to air this at the last minute. It's not listed in TV Guide or our Sunday TV book. Previews were not sent out. But this should be fun to watch. We know he can swing a bat. It will be fun to see him swing a hammer.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

It's Official: "Doc" Taking Over "SportsTalk"

You can hear the future of "Sports Talk" tonight, when Enquirer sports columnist Paul Daugherty sits in with Tom Gamble at 7 p.m. on WLW-AM, and then goes solo 7:30-9 p.m.

Doc officially takes over the show on Tuesday, April 10, after covering The Masters for the Enquirer. (He'll continue to write for the Enquirer, and the paper will still be his primary employer.) Doc also be part of WLW-AM's Opening Day lineup, doing 11 a.m.-1 p.m. with Bill Cunningham. (Won't that be fun?)

Darryl Parks, WLW-AM operations director, had been talking to Doc on and off about doing radio for about five years. When Gamble decided he didn't want to the job, for family reasons, Parks offered it to Doc last month. During Reds night games, Doc will do 6-6:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, and the postgame "Extra Innings" show until midnight Monday-Thursday. Tracy Jones will do the weekend "Extra Innings."

So is Doc a good choice? He admits he has "to learn to be a radio guy." Listen tonight, and tell me what you think.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Brian Patrick Returning to Ch 9

Brian Patrick, whose contract was not renewed last year, returns to Ch 9 on Monday for three months to replace David Rose as morning co-anchor with Kathrine Nero. Patrick did the morning news for 12 of his 16 years at Ch 9, until being moved to weekends when Rose was hired.

Patrick says he was offered a 90-day contract to work through end of June. Asked if he hopes it will turn into something more than that, Patrick says: "I told Bill Fee (GM) and Bob Morford (news director) that I'm coming in with no expecation. I'll show up and do the best I can. If at some point they need more, they'll need to approach me."

After leaving Ch. 9 at the end of the year, Patrick -- whose real name is Paul Smith -- has worked 30 hours a week as multimedia director for the Business Courier. He also does freelance video production, and operates the Good News Network ( which produces Christian "good news" stories for TV and the Web.

Jerry Springer's New Hustle

Are you curious about the behind-the-scenes operation of Jerry Springer's talk show? (Well, somebody must care!) Anyway, Springer's latest hustle is an 8-part reality series on VH1 called "The Springer Hustle." It premieres 11:30 p.m. Sunday, April 15.

VH1 promises to showcase "some of America's most colorful characters, wild relationships and truly amazing stories... The 8 half-hour episodes will focus on the dedicated team of producers in the eye of the Springer hurricane; a tight-knit family charrged with filling the show with the wildest real American stories possible."

Springer will host NBC's summer reality show, "America's Got Talent," starting in June. So how much longer will Springer milk the publicity from "Dancing with the Stars?" And has anyone yet seen the Bud Light commercial which didn't air during the Super Bowl?

We're A Nielsen Family?

People have questioned for years the validity and methods behind the Nielsen TV ratings, and this certainly make one wonder: I just received a postcard here at work downtown, addressed to "TV Research Home, 312 Elm St." saying:

"It is my pleasure to tell you that your household has been chosen to be a 'Nielsen Family' for a one-week TV survery. In a few days you will recieve a long-distance phone call from us to explain this exciting opportunity. Please be assured that we are not attempting to sell anything to you. Our only purpose is to learn which TV programs you and your household watch during the week of the survey. We will telephone you soon. Thank you." It was from Susan Whiting, President, Nielsen Media Research Inc.

So Nielsen doesn't know that 312 Elm Street is a 25-story office building downtown, and not a TV home. (We may spend long hours here, but I don't think anyone in the building calls this home.) And there are other businesses in this building, not just The Enqurier. I wonder what number they'll call for their follow-up call? If they end up with me, I'll let you know.

Friday, March 23, 2007

David Rose Out At Ch 9

Now we know what's up with David Rose, who hasn't been seen on Ch. 9 since anchoring "Good Morning Tri-State" Monday. VP/GM Bill Fee just sent this memo to the staff:
"I am sorry to report we have not reached an agreement with David Rose on his contract renewal, and he will not be returning to on-air work at WCPO-TV. Please join me in wishing David well."

Fee declined further comment by saying his statement "is all I can say about David's leaving. This is a private personnel matter, and I'm unable to comment further."

Rose was abruptly pulled off the morning news about 5:45 a.m. March 7 after slurring his words. By noon, Ch. 9 had removed the newscasts from its web site. Fee said at the time Rose was sent home sick by the producer, after feeling ill at work the previous afternoon. Rose returned to work last week, and sent me an e-mail saying that he had had "a negative reaction to a new prescription."

There has been a lot of chatter about Rose on this blog for 2 weeks. I'm sure I'll get more.
But this is what I want to know: If you ran Ch 9, who would you team with Kathrine Nero as morning news co-host? Anyone on staff? Anyone else in town? If you could steal someone from another station, who would you like to pair with her?

Turning Back the Clock with WDJO

Even if you're not into 1950s and '60s rock n roll, it's fun to listen to WDJO-AM (1160, or ) to hear the vintage radio commercials. About 300 old spots are loaded into the computer -- for Alber's Supermarkets, Kash's Bargain Barn, Schoenling Beer, Shillito's, Jerry's Restaurants, 1960s cars, Harry's Corner that are dropped in during the day.

Operations manager Rodger Kay (Kauffmann) also has gone back and looked at 1960s top 40 lists to add hit songs from local artists to the play list. One original Cincy rocker, Mel Carter ("Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me"), who is heard frequently on the station, headlines the station's "Ultimate Doo-Wop Show" at the Taft Theatre Saturday night with the Skyliners, Maurice Williams & The Zodians, The Shades of Blue and The Contours. It's the station's first oldies concert since signing on the air February a year ago.

Which old commercials would you like to hear or see? Personally I miss the Kwik Brothers for King Kwik. It was corny, but I'd love to hear or see them again. And remember, you'll always save cash with Kash, the ole country boy!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Play Ball! Insight Picks Up Reds HDTV Games

Fox Sports Net Ohio finally has got Insight cable to play ball on HDTV, so what's the hold up with Time Warner? Insight announced today that it will carry all 33 FSN Ohio HDTV games on a new channel, Channel 929, starting with Opening Day. The 33 games will be available at no extra cost to Insight customers who already have a HDTV box and "digital choice" service. If you just got HDTV, it will cost you $67 a month for 12 months, with an Insight promotional package, says PR guy Jon Dobken.

DirecTV also will have the games in HDTV.

But with Opening Day 10 days away, still nothing with Time Warner, the region's biggest cable operator. Says Time Warner spokeswoman Karen Baxter: "We are not ready to make any kind of announcement yet."
What are the chances you'll make a deal before Opening Day?
"I don't know."

Why should we be surprised? Time Warner didn't make a deal for Channel 12's new CinCW channel until the day before it premiered last September.

Deal or no deal? I can't wait to read your comments on this one....

Doug Hall on Reality TV

The quote of the day comes from Doug Hall, who just got knocked off the "American Inventor" judging panel by boxer George Foreman: "There is a big difference between reality TV and reality."

I had asked Hall if his national TV exposure on ABC's reality competition series for inventors a year ago had increased business for his Eureka! Ranch in Newtown. That prompted this reply: "Sadly, no. I never saw much if any business impact from the show, other than selling a few more books. There is a big difference between reality TV and reality."

A year ago Hall was hangin' in Hollywood with Simon Cowell, one of the "American Inventor" producers. This year they've cleared house. Host Matt Galant and 3 of 4 judges are gone. Only holdover is Peter Jones, the Englishman who is also a producer on the show with Cowell and FremantleMedia North America ("American Idol).
New judges are George Foreman, former Philadelphia 76ers president Pat Croce and Spanx owner Sara Blakely. Hall says the exit was by mutual agreement. An ABC spokesman for the show says: "We really liked Doug very much, but decided to go with a celebrity panel this year."

I'll miss Doug's insights on the show. He wasn't afraid to ask the tough question, because he was the only inventor on the panel. He was the only one to try out all the inventions. So now we get George Foreman. But will the changes really matter? This show is never going to be "American Idol," or match viewer interest of "Dancing with the Stars." After a spring run last year, ABC is pushing it back to summer. It will be interesting to see if it comes back in '08 for a third year.
Does anybody care?

ABC Renews 14 Shows

Instead of making us wait until May, ABC decided to announce renewals for 14 shows for fall TV season. Some quick observations: "Boston Legal" has survived, but "What About Brian" not on the list... Not one sitcom is on the list, but 6 reality shows are. Does that surprise you? Will anyone miss "George Lopez," "According to Jim" or "Knights of Prosperity?"
Here's the list:
Ugly Betty
Brothers & Sisters
Men in Trees
The Bachelor
Boston Legal
Dancing with the Stars
Desperate Housewives
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
Grey's Anatomy
Jimmy Kimmel Live
America's Funniest Home Videos
Wife Swap

And this just in: Fox has renewed Prison Break for a 3rd season.

What other shows should be renewed by ABC? Any sitcoms?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Is "WKRP" One Of The Best?

I'll be anxious to watch "WKRP in Cincinnati" when the first-season DVD set arrives in stores on April 24. I loved the show back in the late 70s and early 80s, and the reruns on Nick at Nite in the 90s. But I'm anxious to see how it holds up in comparison to the other all-time sitcom favorites still on the air in reruns: Seinfeld, M*A*S*H, Cosby Show, Roseanne, Raymond, I Love Lucy, Andy Griffith, Night Court, Frasier, etc.

And I'm still looking for huge "WKRP" fans to interview for my story for the DVD release. If you're a big fan, and want to comment, email me at Include your name, age, neighborhood/suburb and daytime phone.

So here's my question today: What are TV's greatest sitcoms? Give me your top 5 or 10. And tell me why "WKRP" should or should not be on the list.

Frampton Live on WNKU-FM

Here's one reason to listen to WNKU-FM's spring fund drive: Rocker Peter Frampton will not only play his favorite songs at noon Friday on WNKU-FM (89.7), he'll also autograph 50 copies of his Grammy-winning instrumental album, "Fingerprints," as a pledge premium. The fund-raiser starts Wednesday, and goes through Tuesday March 27. Other premiums include tickets to the station's Over the Rhine concert and to the "Before The Music Dies" documentary.

And if you live in Butler County, or the northern suburbs of Hamilton County, you can now hear WNKU-FM loud and clear 24/7 on FM 94.5. The station signed on a 100-watt repeater station in the Port Union area of West Chester Township to serve the northern 'burbs. The signal reaches from about Glendale-Milford Road north to the don't-call-it-the-Michael-A-Fox-Highway (Ohio 129), and from Hamilton/Pleasant Avenue (US 127) east to the Union Centre/I-75 area. WNKU's 89.7 signal doesn't reach much beyond the Norwood Lateral so it doesn't interfere with WLHS-FM (89.9).

King of Queens finale

Someone asked me about "The King of Queens" on the Gary Burbank Show Monday, so here's the scoop: The finale was taped last Thursday in Hollywood. The last original episodes will air at 9:30 p.m. Mondays on CBS starting April 9, replacing "Terms of Engagement" (which should be out of new episodes by then). "The King of Queens" finale will air during May sweeps.

Monday, March 19, 2007

What's Up With David Rose?

Something's up with David Rose, Ch 9 morning and 5:30 p.m. co-anchor, whose contract is up for renewal. He's the guy who was sent home at about 5:45 a.m. on Wednesday, March 7, after slurring his words. GM Bill Fee says he was sick, and sent home by a producer. The station pulled the archived newscast off its website by noon that day.

So today, after co-anchoring the monring news today, Fee announced that Rose won't anchor at 5:30 p.m. today or the Tuesday morning news. Strange. Asked if Rose's contract was not being renewed, Fee said: "At this point, I cannot confirm or deny it. At a certain point in the future, I'll be able to comment. When I'm able to say something, I will."

Rose's photo remains posted on the website, but his biography was not accessible. I haven't been able to reach Rose for a comment.

On March 7, Fee said the newscast was pulled down as part of the station's work to relaunch its website, which happened last week. Said Fee: "We did not pull a newscast off the website because of anything David Rose did. Absolutely not!"

In an email last week, Rose blamed his March 7 behavior as "a negative reaction to a new prescription.... I assure you there was no other problem this past Wednesday. Regarding (my) contract, we are still in neogitation. That's not unexpected and I feel we are still headed in the right direction. These things just take the time they take."

What's Up With David Rose?

Something's up with David Rose, Ch 9 morning and 5:30 p.m. co-anchor, whose contract is up for renewal. He's the guy who was sent home at about 5:45 a.m. on Wednesday, March 7, after slurring his words. GM Bill Fee says he was sick, and sent home by a producer. The station pulled the archived newscast off its website by noon that day.

So today, after co-anchoring the monring news today, Fee announced that Rose won't anchor at 5:30 p.m. today or the Tuesday morning news. Strange. Asked if Rose's contract was not being renewed, Fee said: "At this point, I cannot confirm or deny it. At a certain point in the future, I'll be able to comment. When I'm able to say something, I will."

Rose's photo remains posted on the website, but his biography was not accessible. I haven't been able to reach Rose for a comment.

On March 7, Fee said the newscast was pulled down as part of the station's work to relaunch its website, which happened last week. Said Fee: "We did not pull a newscast off the website because of anything David Rose did. Absolutely not!"

In an email last week, Rose blamed his March 7 behavior as "a negative reaction to a new prescription.... I assure you there was no other problem this past Wednesday. Regarding (my) contract, we are still in neogitation. That's not unexpected and I feel we are still headed in the right direction. These things just take the time they take."

Friday, March 16, 2007

Saturday NCAA TV Game Plan

Here are the Saturday NCAA TV games for the Cincinnati-Dayton market. All games will be in HDTV, say Ch. 12 and Ch. 7 programmers:

1 p.m.: Ohio State-Xavier (12, 7)
3:40 p.m.: Louisville-Texas A&M (12, 7)
5:45 p.m.: Georgetown-Boston College (Ch. 12); Pittsburgh-VCU (Ch. 7).
8:10 p.m.: Indiana-UCLA (Ch. 12); UNC-Michigan State (Ch. 7).

Reds On HDTV Still Up In The Air

Opening Day is 2-1/2 weeks away, and we still don't know if Insight or Time Warner cable will carry the FSN Ohio telecast in HDTV. FSN Ohio's 145-game schedule includes 33 games in HDTV, starting with the April 2 Reds-Cubs opener. But only FSNO has a HDTV deal for here with DirecTV.
Insight: FSNO has a HDTV deal with Insight for Columbus and Louisville, says John Dobken, Insight spokesman. Those systems have a "special events HDTV channel" to accommodate FSNO's Reds games, he says. But the Northern Kentucky Insight system doesn't have a "special events HDTV channel" which could be used for Reds games. "We're still exploring options," Dobken says.
Time Warner: "We'd definitely like to have the games in high-def, so we're working on it," says Karen Baxter, local Time Warner public affairs director. "We really want to do it."
Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Ch. 12's NCAA Tournament Game Plan

As expected, Ch 12 will carry the Xavier-BYU game at 9:30 p.m. Thursday, instead of the Wright State or Indiana games. Chs 12 & t also will have the Miami game at 4:55 p.m. Friday, blowing off early local news.

Local 12 news on CinCW: For the first time, the Local 12 news will air on the digital CinCW channel at 11 p.m. on tournament nights, and 5-6:30 p.m. Friday during the Miami game. Ch 12 also will do a full late news after basketball (often about midnight or so).

HDTV: HDTV owners won't be happy, but don't blame Ch. 12. The XU, OSU and Wright State games will not be HDTV. The good news is that Chs. 12 and 7 are promised the entire game, not CBS' around-the-horn coverage cutting away to games everywhere. Stations requesting "constant" coverage will get the game -- but not in HDTV. Only CBS' national "flex" games (cutting in-and-out to various venues) will be in HDTV, says Rick Wagar, Ch 12 program director. It's a CBS technical issue due to lack of transponder space, he says.
UPDATE: CBS says Miami game Friday WILL be in HDTV.

Digital multicast: None this year here. CBS says only a handful of stations not doing the games in HDTV will put alternative games on its digital channels. If you want to see a particular game, you can sign up for free on-demand games on the web:
However, CBS says Cinci area folks will be blocked from watching the XU game by alternative means (web, dish) if it is exclusively on Ch 12, the local affiliate.

Here's Ch. 12's game plan:
Thursday: CBS pregame coverage starts at noon.
12:30: Louisville-Stanford
2:40: Butler-Old Dominion
7 pm: OSU-Central Connecticut (no HDTV)
9:30: Xavier-BYU (no HDTV)
Dayton's Ch 12 will air Wright State-Pittsburgh instead. No local coverage of Indiana-Gonzaga.

Friday's local TV schedule is not confirmed yet, except for Miami-Oregon at 4:55 p.m. That means Chs 12 & 7 will broadcast games noon to midnight. Woohoo!

Pick Your Local TV News Final Four

OK, let's have some fun today. Since everyone is picking favorite Final Four basketball teams for the NCAA tourney, I'm asking you to pick your Final Four TV anchors.

Here's the deal: You can mix and match anchors from different newscasts (morning, noon or night) or different stations. Tell me who would be your TV news dream team -- two news anchors, a weather person and a sports anchor. The only rule is that they must be curently on the air. So that means no Rich Apuzzo, Norma Rashid, Harvey Smilovitz, etc.

The team I'd like to see would be:
News: Clyde Gray & Sheila Gray (imagine the promos!)
Weather: Tim Hedrick
Sports: John Popovich
All great communicators. I think they'd get along great and be fun to watch together.

I also thought about doing an all-rookie Final Four, but can't think of any/many news anchors who would qualify. For weather I'd take meteorologist Eric Green, and sports anchor Lisa Cornwell.

Who would be your Final Four? Give me your list of four and tell me why.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

For Fans of "The Apprentice"

Fans of "The Apprentice: Los Angeles" who want some inside scoop, check out Surya Yalamanchili's website
He deconstructs the last four episodes, and comments about his experience on the show. (He was booted off Sunday.) The24-yr-old P&G brand manager was spotted by producers at an open casting call at the Cincinnati Museum Center in 2004. He was among 25-30 semifinalists, but didn't make the final cut, so he applied again in 2005. He filmed the shows last June.

Five Questions with Rupert Boneham

Had a chance to speak with "Survivor" favorite Rupert Boneham, who will sign copies of his "Rupert: Just Being Me" book at 7 p.m. today at JosepBeth Booksellers in Norwood. Yes, Rupert has written a book. It's not much, with lots of white space and pictures, but hey, what did you expect? He's fun to talk to, and "Survivor" fans will love to hear him at JosephBeth tonight. He's also opening the new Milford Wal-Mart at 6 p.m. Wednesday. Oh, the perks of celebrity!
Here's my chat with Rupert:
Q: Are you surprised you're still a celebrity three years after winning $1 million as America's favorite Survivor?
A: My whole goal getting on Survivor was just getting my family out of debt. I never thought it would start a new world and career path for me. I've started six companies.
Q: Where you always a Survivor fan?
A: I've always been Survivor crazy. I got Kentucky Joe's -- Rodger Bingham's -- autograph in 2001 at the Future Farmers of America exhibit at the Indiana State Fair.
Q: Why is Cincinnati so Survivor crazy?
A: Because they see Survivor as one of the few reality shows that cannot be manipulated by the producers. They just put people on an island and let them go crazy. It's not "The Amazing Race"and other reality show where producers stop the competition and let teams catch up.
Q: Have you had offers to do more TV?
A: For three years I've been trying to sell mentoring-type shows. We've shot four or five different pilots, and I've got two more to shoot this spring. We're trying to keep the dream alive, of changing the way the world treats kids.
Q: How do you thinkUC's Michelle Yi is doing on "Survivor: Fiji?"
A: She's one I'm rooting for. Michelle has shown she's tough. She's kind of quiet and not standing out yet. I'm always looking for the underdog. I was so proud of her when she started the fire with her glasses. The whole tribe was laying around doing nothing. If she can make it through the merge, she should do pretty good.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Do You Know Phil Stacey?

Do you know Phil Stacey, the U.S. Navy guy on "American Idol" from Jacksonville, Fla?
It turns out he lived somewhere in the the Greater Cincinnati area for about 10 years, from roughly 1981 to 1991, according to "Idol" publicists. Stacey, 29, lived here from age 3 to age 13. Then he moved to Wichita, where he went to high school.
"American Idol" fans know Stacey as the guy who missed his daughter's birth last summer to audition in Memphis. He and his wife, Kendra, has two daughters.
Stacey's Fox bio says he's a "pastor's son" and began singing in church. He also plays drums, piano and bass. Here's a link to his Fox bio, video and photo gallery:
If you know Phil Stacey, please email me at

Friday, March 09, 2007

How Do You Replace Gary Burbank?

So how do you replace Gary Burbank after he joins Gilbert Gnarley at the St. Pia Zadora Golden Buckeye Retirement Community at the end of the year?
Darry Parks, WLW-AM operations director says he's "definitely looking at entertainment" to fill the 3-6 p.m. slot. "WLW is much more based in entertainment than political ideology," he says. But you've got to remember that he considers Bill Cunningham an entertainer.

So here's my question today: If you ran WLW, who would you put on afternoons after Burbank retires Dec. 31?

Would you move Cunningham there? Or Scott Sloan?

Would you launch a new comedy show? Who could do it? Doc Wolfe? Eddie Fingers? (He used to fill in for Gary.) Bob the Producer? Michael Flannery (he's available!)? Jay Gilbert from WEBN? Chris O'Brien from WGRR? Jerry or Jene Galvin? Pair one of these guys with Duke Sinatra?

Or would you switch to sports talk, risking trashing ratings on sister station 1530 Homer? Would you move Lance McAlister from 1530? Alan Cutler? Bill “Seg” Dennison? Tim “Big Dog” Lewis (former WBOB sports talker now doing overnight news on WLW-AM)?

Who else? If ran WLW, who would do afternoons? You tell me.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

"Dateline NBC" Discovers UC's Ohio Innocence Project

"Dateline NBC" devotes an hour Sunday (7 p.m., Chs 5, 2) to Melinda Elkins, who with the help of UC's Ohio Innocence Project freed her husband after seven years in prison in December 2005. Four UC Law School students, working with the UC-based Ohio Innocence Project, helped get Clarence Elkins' 1999 convictions for murder and raped overturned. Correspondent Sara James tells the story through Melinda Elkins, who now lives in Eaton in Preble County.

NBC's description of the hour: "Sara James reports on how one ordinary woman, Melinda Elkins, transformed herself into a would-be CSI investigator after her husband is accused of the unimaginable--the murder and rape of her mother, and the rape of her niece. In her relentless quest for justice, Elkin embarked on a dangerous mission in which she would take on police, prosecutors and the State of Ohio."

UC's press release on the program:

Melanie Bates on "CBS Evening News" tonight

Sorry for te short notice, but just learned that the "CBS Evening News" is doing a story tonight (6:30 p.m., Ch. 12) on Melanie Bates, the Cincinnati school board vice president whose husband was shot and killed outside of their North Avondale home. Correspondent Byron Pitts picked up on Chuck Martin's Feb. 27 Enquirer story about Bates' campaign to reduce violence in Cincinnati.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Gary Burbank Signing Off

To quote Earl Pitts: You know what makes me sick?
The thought of not hearing Gary Burbank on the airwaves after this year. Burbank, who turns 66 in July, says he's definitely retiring when his contract four-year contract expires Dec. 31.
Yes, several times before, I've written stories saying Burbank planned to retire. But this time he's not fooling. Or as he put it: "Dis time I'm being honest wit you," in the words of the Big Fat Balding Guy, one of his characters.
Here's the link to my story:

So here's my question today: Who is your favorite Burbank character and why? What's your favorite Burbank bit? There are so many to choose from: Earl Pitts, Gilbert Gnarley, All My Bengals, Sports or Consequences, The Synonymous Bengal, Reds & The Restless, Dan Buckles, Eunice & Bernice, Big Fat Balding Guy, Senseless Surveys, Blues Break with Howlin' Blind Muddy Slim, etc.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Singleton Out As WNKU-FM GM

Nobody is saying much about why Ben Singleton has left WNKU-FM (89.7) after 12 years, the last five as general manager. NKU media relations director Chris Cole says "it's a personnel issue," and the university won't comment on why he split.
Grady Kirkpatrick, hired from Murray State in 1998 as assistant general manager for operations and programming, has been named interim GM. A search will begin in May or June to find a new manager by end of summer, says Kirkpatrick, who wants to be considered for the job. Singleton had served as interim GM before getting the job in 2002.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Ch 9 pulls plug on Michael Flannery, "9 On Your Kids Side"

Has any other TV reporter impacted as many lives as Ch. 9's Michael Flannery and "9 On Your Kids Side?" Ch 9 confirms today that it didn't renew the contract for Flannery, who has helped special needs kids for five years with his regular "9 On Your Kids Side" features. He's gone at the end of the month, and they're shutting down the ability to donate money for his causes through the Greater Cincinnati Foundation. Here's a link to my story:
It appears his "9 On Your Kids Side" is a Cincinnati phenomena. Flannery says Scripps tried it at other stations in other markets, but it just didn't work. I guess that says something about our generosity. I understand the economic pressures of the news biz, and why Ch 9 is pulling the plug, though I hate to see this program end.... He's done so much good work. And the nonprofits and disease support groups who counted on him as MC for their fund-raisers will really miss him. He really will be missed.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Pete Delkus Update

Been wondering what Pete Delkus has been up to at WFAA-TV in Dallas? Well, here's a clip from the the "Delkus Cam" of Pete working hard in the WFAA weather center from Gordon Keith's new Dallas TV comedy show.
Search "Delkus Cam" in the upper left corner.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Marty Has Left The Reds Radio Booth

This is going to take some getting used to. After years of Marty & Joe on Reds Radio.... and then Marty & Steve.... it was kind of jarring to hear the Reds Hall of Famer addressed as "Dad" repeatedly on the air today.

I'm enjoying listening today to Marty Brennaman and his son, Thom. But it will take time to become accustomed to hearing Thom address his broadcast partner as Dad. In the opening minutes of the broadcast, Thom explained to listeners that he had talked to several people on the Dad vs. Marty question, and decided to call him Dad. That's what sons call their fathers, he said. "So it's Dad! I hope everybody is cool with that!"

Claiming not to be a sentimental person, Marty choked up introducing Thom for their radio debut today on the Reds first spring training opener. Thom jumped in and broke the ice with: "Do you need a breather there, old-timer?"

Marty and Thom had never done a radio game before, and it showed. They stepped on each other's lines a couple of times, but they'll figure it out. It was as much fun to hear them as I had hoped. And Jeff Brantley offered some good insights when he joined the broadcast in the fifth innnig.

Rotation set
Here's the Reds Radio rotation this weekend:
Friday: No broadcast
Saturday: Thom and Jeff Brantley
Sunday: Marty & Joe.

Your turn
I'm interested in your opinions about all three broadcasts this weekend by the new Reds Radio team. Tell me what you think.

February TV News: A New Battleground

This just in: The TV news wars have broken out on a new front: 5-6:30 p.m. Yes, the morning news battles still raged in Feburary -- with big snow storms, freezing rain, school closings and the Liz Carroll murder trial -- with just three-tenths of a ratings point separating Chs 9, 19 and 5 behind leader Ch. 12.

But the big news in the February sweeps ratings released today is the early evening news competition. In my opinion, the new emphasis on 5-6:30 p.m. in a reaction from Ch 5 taking second place at 5 p.m. in November, knocking Ch 12 to third. Well, Ch. 12 roared back with a vengance in February, while Ch. 9 and Ch. 5 revved up the original content in the early news block.

Ch. 12 increased ratings 38% at 5-6:30 p.m., while Ch 9 grew 17% and Ch 5 increased by only 6% over the 90 minutes. Ch. 12 closed the gap at 6 p.m. to six-tenths of a ratings point, compared to 1.8 points in November. The weather and murder trial also boosted Ch 12's 4 p.m. newscast by 63% over November.

But the biggest leap of all came for Ch. 19's 10 p.m. newscast. It was up 56% from November, to an 8.9 rating and 14% audience share, with "American Idol," the weather and trial coverage. The 8.9 rating Monday-Friday -- against the networks' big "sweeps" programs -- translates into more TV homes than the 11 p.m. news audience for Chs 9 or 5.

In fact, "The Simpsons" drew more 11 p.m. viewers on Ch. 19 (5.5 rating) than the Ch. 5 news (5.3) in Feburary. D'Oh!

Here are the numbers from Nielsen Media Research:

Station Rating Homes Share
7-6 a.m.
WKRC-TV 6.0 53,214 20%
WCPO-TV 4.5 39,911 16%
WLWT-TV 4.2 37,250 14%
WXIX-TV 4.2 37,250 14%

5 p.m.
WCPO-TV 9.8 86,916 20%
WKRC-TV 7.9 70,065 16%
WLWT-TV 5.9 52,327 12%

5:30 p.m.
WCPO-TV 10.1 89,577 19%
WKRC-TV 9.3 82,482 17%
WLWT-TV 4.9 43,458 9%

6 p.m.
WCPO-TV 10.8 95,785 19%
WKRC-TV 10.2 90,464 18%
WLWT-TV 4.8 42,571 8%

10 p.m.
WXIX-TV 8.9 78,934 14%
WSTR-TV 2.3 20,399 3%

11 p.m.
WKRC-TV 14.1 125,053 26%
WCPO-TV 8.6 76,273 16%
WLWT-TV 5.3 47,006 10%

Sorry, Kate

You can go to and vote for Blue Ash native Kate Rockwell Wilfong as the favorite singer you want returned to competition on "Grease: You're The One That I Want." But it won't get her back on the show. The online poll won't have any impact on the TV show, even if Kate is leading the voting with 45% this morning.
NBC publicist Diane Licht doubled checked with the producers, then told me the online poll "has nothing to do with the show. It's just a fun little contest that they put up at"
Licht says producers have mapped out the eliminations so the two winners will be revealed on the March 25 finale. A woman goes home Sunday, a guy goes home March 18, and there are no plans to add anyone eliminated from the contest back into the mix.

Jim Borgman
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John Fay's Reds Insider
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